The Case For Ministers To Buy EVs Instead of Benzes

Ministers looking for a posh set of wheels, how about jumping aboard the EV revolution to avoid criticism?

News had recently broke about the Chief Minister of Penang getting himself a new very posh set of wheels, in the form of a brand new Mercedes-Benz S560e. Supposedly bought at a discounted rate, this Selenite Grey plug-in hybrid luxury limousine now bears the PG 1 plates, which designates it to be the official ride of the head of island state. 

There is of course many a debate to be had about this latest vehicular acquisition by the Penang state government. Chief among which is the optics of a government official lounging in luxury in the back of an opulent S-Class, while ordinary Malaysians are still struggling to make ends meet in this pandemic. 

Furthermore, there is a strong case too of the ‘pot calling the kettle black’ with this particular Benz buy by the Penang state government. Especially considering that the current political party running things over in the state having gone on record for previously lambasting the ruling party in Kelantan regarding the purchase of 14 similar Mercedes models for ‘official use’. 

Putting all the politics aside for now though, and moving onto the automotive aspect of this news story, seeing as the minister’s new ride is a PHEV, it does beg an interesting question as to why didn’t the Penang government not decide on the purchase of an all-electric car instead?

While there is no full-sized all-electric German luxury sedan available yet, something like a humble Nissan LEAF would probably be the next best option for the various local government bodies of Malaysia looking to splash their cash on a new set of wheels.

The Case for the Nissan LEAF

It might not be the most opulent of rides for a head of state, and there will still be some who would argue that, retailing at RM 188,888, the LEAF still costs too much. Having said that, with a full EV like the Leaf at least, there is the much more reasonable excuse to be given for getting such an expensive new car, as the Penang government could realistically say that they are being committed to leading the charge (no pun intended) on the electric revolution in Malaysia. 

Particularly considering that Penang is small yet densely populated island, having the government officials running around in electric cars might indeed help spur the development of charging infrastructure around the state. Thereby making EV ownership a more attractive proposition for local Penangites. 

Nissan Leaf EV 2020

Ministers running a LEAF (or any EV for that matter) also provides the prospect of setting an example for other state governments to follow in its electrification footsteps. Hence possibly supercharging of the EV revolution that has already been gaining momentum nationwide.

On the political optics side of things too, having a mid-sized electric hatchback as an official government car fits amazingly well with the theme of austerity and innovation that should be demonstrated by our leaders, particularly in times of crisis like we are facing currently. 

Then again though, if we were all to be frank, we all know that the purchase of the big Benz here was all because of the badge. 

The Case for the Tesla Model S

If that is the case then, the alternative to the PHEV Benz could be something like a Tesla Model S. This particular American all-electric sedan is widely hailed as the poster child of the EV revolution after all. 

While it may not have an official distribution network here just yet, there are already several of these Model S sedans rocking around locally thanks to enterprising importers. Hopefully too, with a government official romping around in one of these Teslas, it could also make a case for Elon to swing some cash to Malaysia’s way to open an official dealership or build a factory here. 

Once sufficient tweets about it manages to penetrate his media bubble that is. 

Wild Card: Just Buy A Porsche Taycan Instead

Alternately, since the spin on the tale of the RM458,000 Benz purchase by the Penang government has been so effective, why not go all in instead on the slightly more expensive (RM 725k++) Porsche Taycan? 

It might not be as luxurious in the back as the S-Class, but it would certainly be more cushy than in the Leaf. There is also no question that this silent Stuggart stallion will offer even more prestige than the big Benz ever could. Giving these ministers the chance to be the belle of the ball when rocking up to any and all official events. 

Happily too, the environmental argument does still (more or less) stand with the electrified Taycan. Meaning that the people in power could still argue that driving around/being chauffeured in this near-million dollar Porsche is a public service, for all the eco-conscious reasons mentioned above. 

So to ministers out there looking to swap in their German limos for a newer model, get yourself (or your secretary) down to the local Porsche dealership and place an order to be another one of the more than 70 other wealthy Malaysians that are happily powering around in their all-electric Taycans. Its all for the good of the environment after all. 

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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